Aromantic: [noun] someone who doesn't experience romantic attraction to others. An identity most people aren’t too familiar with, especially in an age when intense cultural value is placed on the quest for romance – epitomized by the dominating popularity of Tinder, Love Island and every single one of the eleven ‘love songs’ from Ed Sheeran’s latest album that made it into the UK top ten. However, it also happens to be the topic of conversation for Moses Sumney’s aptly named debut album, Aromanticism.
Sumney is all too aware that “in most art, romance is prioritized, emphasized, celebrated and sought after”, as he said in a recent interview with James Blake. He recalls that when he first wrote music, he wrote love songs, because that was the only way he knew. However, when he actually began to write about his own experiences he realized that “although there are romantic tones – the absence of romance is a huge thing”.
For some, listening to others sing about love and romance can be a disconnect. This was the case for Sumney as he set about creating something different – art centered on the sobering realities of romantic attraction. On ‘Quarrel’ he doesn’t shy away from recalling how class inequality causes only incongruity “Quoting this a quarrel/So immorally implies/We’re equal opponents” (there’s no Disney-fied ‘Lady and the Tramp’-esqe false hope here).
Sonically, Aromanticism is almost sexy. The production is exquisite, embracing negative space and creating a bold, atmospheric landscape. ‘Make Out In My Car’ even features a jazz flute solo, eminently erotic, accompanying the hook “I’m not tryna go to bed with you/I just wanna make out in my car”. This highlights a common misunderstanding of being aromantic – it’s not necessarily concerned with sexual attraction, rather the romantic aspect of love.
That being said, I’m already making an assumption. Just because Sumney chose to name his debut record Aromanticism, does that imply he personally identifies with the term? “I sort of have, but sort of haven’t” he tells Blake. “An album is a snapshot of where you are at that time, and my album is that for me, but it doesn’t necessarily express all the things about me that are complex.” I suppose this is an important point and I feel the album is less a statement of identity, rather a remedy for all those found exacerbated by a right-swiping requirement for romantic love.